Saturday, December 31, 2011

Countdown to 2012-Best Desserts

 Countdown to 2011 with Finding Joy in My Kitchen

Here we are on the last day of 2011, and the subject for Countdown to 2012 is Desserts.  Desserts, desserts, how I love thee, or sweets of any kind for that matter.  I participated in 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies and Sweets, Crazy Cooking Challenge-Fudge, and The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011, all of which meant posting a recipe for sweets.  Even though I have thought about this all week, it has been very difficult to pick the top few.  This is what I finally came up with:

Holiday Shortbread.  These were the cookies that I made and sent to three other bloggers for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011.  This may be my number one recipe as it was the featured link on at least two other blogs.  I am not a very good photographer and don't have much of an area to take photos in, but I think that the photo is also one of the best ones I took this year.

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk.  I know that this is not a dessert recipe, but it is such a great recipe to have in your arsenal.  It can save a considerable amount of money, and you can package up the milk in those 1/2 and 2/3 cup amounts that recipes sometimes call for without trying to figure out what you are going to do with the rest of the can.  Marsha over at The Better Baker has been making the recipe with half sugar and half Splenda with great success.  I made Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk for both the recipes listed below.

Easy No-Machine Ice Cream.  Take a can of sweetened condensed milk, 2 c. of whipped cream and whatever else you want to add and a little waiting; and you can have honest-to-goodness homemade ice cream without an ice cream maker.  I about went wild with this recipe this summer, thinking up a new flavor combination just about every day.

Frozen Peaches and Cream Crisp-GF.  This dessert is based on the Easy No-Machine Ice Cream mentioned above.  I wanted a fancied-up version of the ice cream for a party.  The crust can be gluten-free if made with gluten-free oats.  Other fruits can be used.  I plan to do a raspberry version soon.  This was the family's most favorite dessert of the summer.

No-Fail Fudge.  This is my go-to fudge recipe from Farm Journal.  Many, many flavors of fudge can be made from this one basic recipe just by changing the flavor of the chips and extracts.  The varieties in the photo are just a few examples.

Coconut Pecan Cake Balls.  This is the latest recipe that I have played around with.  Although I had a little trouble with the dipping and the balls weren't all pretty; these were a big hit with the people at work.  I want to play with this one further.

Because of their versatility, I am going to give Honorable Mention to several mix recipes that I posted in 2011:    Homemade Cake Mix.  I most recently used this to make "Melt in Your Mouth" Pecan Toffee Cookies from The Better Baker, and I could not tell the difference between them and the ones I made using a purchased mix.  1001 Cookie Mix.  Although the recipe I posted was from Domino Sugar, C& H Sugar has revived this recipe and is currently promoting it.  They are inviting people to post recipes developed with the mix on their facebook page so there will actually be 1001 recipes.  Homemade Brownie Mix  Besides the variations I posted with the mix recipe, I posted additional uses for the mix here and here.

For a recap of my picks for the week:
Monday:  Best Breakfasts
Tuesday:  Best Breads
Wednesday:  Best Soups
Thursday:  Best Main Dishes
Friday:  Best Side Dish/Vegetables (because I had no crockpot recipes posted)

Sno White over at Finding Joy in My Kitchen has been a most wonderful hostess for this party.  Head on over there to see what other bloggers have chosen as their best dessert recipes for 2011.  You still have time to create a post a link up yourself if you like.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Best of 2011-Side Dishes/Vegetables

Today the theme for Countdown to 2012 is Crockpot Dishes.  Alas, I did not post any recipes using a crockpot on my blog this year.  I know that there will be many great crockpot recipe links posted over at Finding Joy in My Kitchen today so head on over for some great stuff.

Since I have no crockpot recipes, I decided that today I would do a list of what I think are the best sidedish/vegetable recipes that I posted this year.

Fried Rice-Japanese Style.  This is the side dish that I usually serve with the Simmered Chinese Chicken or anything Oriental.  This can be made into a main dish by adding diced cooked chicken, meat or ham to it.

Green Beans and Corn with Bacon, Onion and Garlic.  My hubby doesn't care for green beans much and will only eat the canned ones.  I am always trying new ways to fix them.  This was one of my successes this year.

Serbian Cabbage.  This dish didn't photograph very well, but it is a great one to know about.  You can serve this to people who says they don't like cabbage, and they will eat it.  I often don't say what it is until people have had a chance to taste it.  It hardly tastes like cabbage at all.  This is a baked dish, and can go in the oven with meat or poultry.

Not That Green Bean Casserole.  This is the casserole to make if you like green bean casserole, but you don't want to use commercial cream soup.  This one is made with sour cream.  It is easy and very good.

Loaded Mashed Potatoes.  This recipe was part of the November Crazy Cooking Challenge.  These were different from my usual mashed potatoes and were very good.  There are links to 79 other mashed potato recipes with lots of good ideas in this post.

Well, these are my top 5 side dish/vegetable recipes for 2011.  Tomorrow I will  be back with the Countdown to 2012 and the best desserts of 2011.  I posted many sweets so they will be hard to narrow down.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Countdown to 2012-Best Main Dish Recipes

 Countdown to 2011 with Finding Joy in My Kitchen

The Countdown to 2012 continues, and today we are doing Main Dishes.  Because of my work schedule, I only cook a dinner meal three times a week.  I usually fix roasts, casseroles or meat loaf so that hubby will have leftovers to eat the other four nights.  The recipes I did get posted on the blog are favorite recipes that I make over and over.  Here are some of those.

Simmered Chinese Chicken.  This is one of my top favorite recipes.  Whole chickens are still something that can be purchased at a reasonable price so this is inexpensive.  It is also easy and quick.  The cooking takes less than an hour, and you get this wonderfully moist, slightly teriyaki-flavored meat with a flavorful sauce to serve over rice or noodles.

Chinese Filled Buns.  Although these do take a little time and effort, they are just great to have in the freezer to toss in the oven and heat.  There is both a pork and beef filling in the post and chicken breasts or thighs can be substituted in either of them.

Spicy Southwest Pork Fingers.  These are very good and a nice departure from chicken fingers.  I see that I wrote that I would be doing more  recipes with strips of pork and haven't done that.  Another thing to add to the list for 2012.

Salisbury Steak with "Eat Your Veggies" Gravy  This recipe is quick and makes ground beef a little more "upscale."  This is almost nice enough for company. 

Chicken Seasoning Mix /Clean the Pantry Chicken.  This post has a great seasoning mix to make up and keep on hand.  This is a nice use for cereal that is left in the bottom of the boxes.  I have used crushed Chex, Kix, Cheerios, and corn flakes for this as well as the Rice Krispies.  I just put the cereal in a zip-top bag until there is enough to make the recipe.

Surprise Meat Loaf.  One last recipe.  This one stretches a pound and a half of ground beef to serve 8 to 10. Because of the stuffing, this is a little more work than regular meat loaf; but it is well worth it.

Other bloggers have linked up their lists of main dish recipes over at Finding Joy in My Kitchen.  Hop on over and check them out.

It is not too late to get in on the fun.  Just make a post of your favorite main dishes and link it up.

Friday is Crockpot Cooking (I am afraid that I don't have a thing to post here)
Saturday is Desserts (I will be back then)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Countdown to 2012-Best Soup/Stew Recipes

I make soup a lot, but it turns out that I did not post that many soup recipes this year.  Another situation I will have to remedy in 2012.  

I am going to list this Cream Soup Mix first because it is so useful to have on hand.  It is gluten free, and you can use it to make just about any soup that you want that might use a commercial cream soup mix.  This is one of my first posts, and for whatever reason the photo no longer shows on the post.

Confetti Potato and Ham Soup.  As I said in my original post, this potato soup is one of my two favorite potato soups.  I think that the use of some of the potato-cooking water in the soup is what gives this such full potato flavor.  I will be posting the other potato soup soon.

Southwest Chicken Corn Chowder.  This was a soup that I was not sure I would like when I made it, but I ended up loving it.  It can be made quickly from freezer and pantry shelf items by anyone who can "dump and pour."  It is very easy to throw together.

Curried Cream of Green Bean Soup with Bacon.  This is the soup I make when I want soup just for myself.  I really like this using carrots also.  It is a great light summer soup.

Well, there is my list of best soup posts for 2011.  For the recipes that other bloggers have picked, just head on over to Finding Joy in My Kitchen.  It is not too late to make your own list and link up if you would like.

Tomorrow will be Main Dishes
Friday will be Crockpot Dishes
Saturday will be Desserts

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Countdown to 2012-Best Bread Recipes

 Countdown to 2011 with Finding Joy in My Kitchen

This is day 2 of Countdown to 2012, Best Recipes of 2011; and we are to post our best bread recipes.  I did not post any actual yeast bread recipes this year.  That is something I will have to remember to do in 2012.  I did post a few quick breads, however, and these are what I think are my top three.

A-Z Quick Bread.  I am putting this first because this is such a versatile recipe.  You can make almost any flavor of quick bread you want with this one.

Key West Coconut Bread.  My son-in-law loves coconut, and I have made this bread for him every Chrisrmas since I found the recipe.  If you like coconut, you will love this.  When I posted the recipe I had not yet made the bread so did not have this picture.  I will be adding this to the post today.

Cheese and Onion Nut Bread.  This was a new-to-me recipe and made a great bread to serve with soups or casserole or actually all by itself.  Again, a versatile bread as the cheese and nuts can be changed at will.

There are my three choices for bread recipe posts for 2011.  To see all the other bloggers choices, visit Finding Joy in My Kitchen.  It is not too late to create a post and link up your favorites also.

Tomorrow will be soups and stews.
Thursday will be main dishes
Friday will be crockpot dishes
Saturday will be desserts

Monday, December 26, 2011

Countdown to 2012-Best Breakfast Recipes

Good Monday to all.  I hope that everyone had a wonderful day full of food, family, friends and fun yesterday.  May the joy of Christmas and the spirit of the Season continue to be with you in the year ahead.

 Countdown to 2011 with Finding Joy in My Kitchen

Even though I have not been blogging all that long, I though it would be fund to join Finding Joy in My Kitchen and other bloggers in highlighting what I think are my best recipe posts for 2011.  There will be a different category each day:

Today, December 26- Best Breakfast Recipes
Tuesday, December 27-Best Bread Recipes
Wednesday, December 28-Best Soup & Stew Recipes
Thursday, December 29-Best Main Dish Recipes (Meat, No Meat, All-in)\
Friday, December 30-Best Crockpot Recipes
Saturday, December 31-Best Dessert Recipes

I have not posted recipes in all the categories; but if I have, I will do a recap of the ones I think are best.  So, first up is breakfast recipes.

The top breakfast recipe would have to be Breakfast Bread Pudding Cups.  I think that this post received the most comments of any recipe that I posted this year, so it is certainly worth a highlight here.  I am not surprised.  These have everything going for them.  The recipe uses ingredients that one usually has on hand, can be made ahead, can be sweet or savory and is delicious either way.

The second recipe is Oatmeal Pancakes with Cinnamon Cream Syrup.  These are my favorite pancakes.  They are hearty and stay with you for a long time.  The syrup is a nice change from the usual maple.

The third recipe is the recipe for homemade Instant Oatmeal.   This versatile recipe has many variations; and, if you have kids that like instant oatmeal, can save a ton of money.  I keep it made up and handy for days I need a very quick breakfast.

That is my list of breakfast recipe posts for 2011.  Stop over at  Finding Joy in My Kitchen to find the links to what other blogger's chose for their best breakfast recipes for 2011.  Feel free to post your own highlight and join us if you's like. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas/Happy Birthday

Merry Christmas
To You

To Me

Today is my 70th birthday.  Yes, I was a Christmas baby born at home on December 25, 1941.  I will now have to change my profile to say "70 something."  

Yesterday, I baked my mother's fruitcake recipe.  I had planned to make a post about it.  I tried, but I just could not.  Mom's passing in November is still to raw, and I found I did not have the words that I wanted.  Perhaps I will share it next year.

Today, we celebrated a nice quiet Christmas at my younger daughter's with all my close family present.  I hope that everyone had a wonderful day with family and friends.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Coconut Pecan Cake Balls


I have been noticing the cake pop and cake balls recipes all around the net for awhile.  My mind ever curious, I wondered if the Coconut Pecan Frosting could be used to make the cake balls.  All the recipes seemed to use the regular type frosting.

I decided to give the version I had running around in my head a try.  I really wanted to use Butter Pecan cake mix, but that is very hard to find where I live, and I did not want to use up one out of my precious inventory just in case things failed.  I decided that, since I had one on hand, I would use a German Chocolate cake mix.

Most of the cake ball recipes say to just make up the cake mix according to the directions, but I had heard that some people had a problem with that.  I decided to use the Wilton pound cake recipe which takes an instant pudding mix and extra eggs.  I am going to try this with my Homemade Cake Mix and see how it goes.

I dipped the cake balls in melted almond bark.  The package of white bark I had was old, and it did not thin out well so the only one of those you are going to see is the one I cut in half to show the inside.   I did better with the chocolate coating so that is what you get to see.  I think that next time I will buy the dipping wafers or try melted frosting or chocolate chips.

Since there are not a lot of pecans in the frosting mix, next time I will add some finely chopped, toasted pecans, maybe 1/2 to 1 cup and maybe some chopped coconut, too.


Coconut Pecan Cake Balls
1 pkg. (18 oz.) cake mix, German Chocolate, Butter Pecan or other.
I small pkg. instant pudding, I used vanilla as I had that on hand
1 c. water
1/3 c. vegetable oil
4 eggs, room temperature
1 can Coconut Pecan Frosting
2 pkgs. (24 oz.) coating mix (almond bark) or dipping wafers.

Combine all ingredients in mixer bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes until well blended.  Pour into a greased 9x13-inch baking pan or two 8x8-inch baking pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes for the 9x13-inch cake or 30 to 40 minutes for the 8x8-inch cakes.  Let stand in pans for 10 minutes.  Remove from pans, place on rack and cool completely.  Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes or until cake is very cold.  Crumble half of 9x13-inch cake into bowl of a large stand mixer.  Add half of the frosting and mix until frosting is very well blended with the cake mix.  There should be no discernable cake mix crumbs showing.  If only a hand mixer is available, use a quarter of the cake mix and a quarter of the frosting mix at a time.  Use a cookie scoop to measure out level scoops of the mixture.  Roll mixture into balls with your hands.  Place balls on a wax paper lined baking sheet.  Freeze one hour.  Repeat with the other half of the cake and frosting mix.  Melt coating candy according to package directions.  Remove cake balls from freezer and dip into the coating.   Place back on the waxed paper to set.  A 9x13-inch cake will make about 120 or so cake balls.

Below is a picture of what the cake balls looked like with the white coating.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hidden Kiss Cookies-Take 2


A few weeks ago I posted a Hidden Kiss Cookie as part of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies.  At that time I used a recipe calling for powdered sugar and used Cherry Cordial Kisses.  I had also purchased some Mint Truffle Kisses and wanted to make cookies with them.  I decided to use another recipe that I had which called for regular sugar.  That recipe came from Pillsbury Festive Holiday Recipes, 1981.

Although the recipe calls for vanilla, I like to use a flavoring that corresponds to what will be the filling in the cookies.  Thus, I used mint flavor in these cookies.  Other things that can be used for filling are:    M&M’s plain or peanut, candied cherries, walnut or pecan halves, whole almonds, gumdrops, butter mints, etc.  The cookies can also be colored with food coloring if desired.

I don’t know if it was the difference in the dough, the kisses, or I was more practiced at getting the kisses completely covered, but I did not have any leakage with these cookies.

The cookies may be left plain, cooled 10 minutes and rolled in sifted powdered sugar, or dipped in the glaze.


Hidden Kiss Cookies Take 2
2 c. butter or margarine, softened
1 1/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla or 1 t. mint, almond, or other flavoring
4 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
72 Hershey’s Kisses, about 1 1/2 bags or other desired filling

Cream butter and sugar together until well blended.  Beat in egg and flavoring.  Combine flour and salt.  Add to butter/sugar mixture and blend well.  Dough will be somewhat stiff.  Using level measuring tablespoonsful of dough, flatten the dough and then wrap around  kiss or other filling, rolling into a ball and encasing filling completely.  Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees 14 to 16 minutes until set and bottom is lightly browned.  Cool 10 minutes and roll in powdered sugar if desired or cool completely and top with glaze.  Makes 72 cookies.

1 c. powdered sugar, sifted or put through a sieve
1 T. plus 1 1/2 t. milk
1 t. vanilla or other flavoring
food coloring if desired

Mix ingredients together until very smooth.  Let set for a few minutes.  Dip tops of cookies into glaze.  Let excess glaze drop off.  Place on wire rack with waxed paper underneath and let the glaze set.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Happiness Cookie Scrolls



I make no secret of how much I love quick and easy recipes, but every once in a while I find one that takes some time and effort that is well worth it.  This is one of those recipes.  Although it does take some work, this is a fun recipe to make.  The recipe also comes from the Pillsbury cookbook,  “Festive Holiday Recipes”,1981.  It can be both a gift and a card.

The cookies are baked, then little paper messages are folded or rolled and inserted into the cookie scrolls.  Making the cookies can be turned into an activity to do with kids.  Have them write out  messages on the papers and cut the lengths of ribbon needed.  Of course, messages could also be printed out from a computer.

Either quick or old-fashioned oats can be used in the recipe.  Old-fashioned oats will make a more lacey cookie and is what was used in the cookies in the photos.  Dark brown sugar can be used, but it will give the cookies a bigger caramel flavor.

Be sure to leave the 4-inches between the cookies when baking them.  I can bake about 4 cookies at a time on the size baking sheets I have.  It takes a little bit of practice to know when to roll the cookies after baking.  The handle of a wooden spoon can be used to help roll the cookies.

If you don’t want to bother to roll the cookies, you can leave them flat.  They still will taste good.


A small cookie scoop full makes about a 4-inch cookie.  For smaller cookies, use a level measuring teaspoon of dough.   This is for making flat cookies only.   The larger amount is needed to make the scrolls.  The cookies are basically oats held together by melted sugar so after the cookies have been placed on the baking sheet, squeeze them together a bit to compact the dough balls.  This will help the cookies not come apart as they are baking.  The cookies will be like lace.  Below is a photo I tried to take to show the texture.  Do you know how hard it is to hold a cookie in one hand, and shoot a picture with the other?


Holiday Happiness Cookie Scrolls
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 c. rolled oats, quick or old-fashioned
1 T. flour (not self-rising)
1/8 t. salt
1/4 t. soda
1/3 c. butter or margarine, melted
1 T. lemon juice

In a medium bowl, combine sugar, oats, flour, salt and soda.  Mix well.  Combine melted butter and lemon juice.  Stir into dry ingredients and blend thoroughly.  Using a small cookie scoop, place dough balls 4-inches apart on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Squeeze cookies to compact them a bit.  Bake at 325 degrees 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow cookies to set for 30 to 45 seconds.  One at a time roll cookies around the handle of a wooden spoon to form scrolls.  Place on rack and cool completely.  If cookies become too crisp for rolling, return to the oven for 1 to 2 minutes to warm slightly.  Makes about 24 cookies.  

The cookies are very fragile while warm, but "toughen up" considerably once they are cooled.  Wait until they are completely cool to add the paper messages.  To complete the scrolls, cut pieces of paper about 3x4-inches.  Write a message and roll or fold so the paper is about 1/4-inch wide.  Slide the paper into the scrolls.  Cut 8 to 10-inch lengths of 1/8-inch ribbon, yarn, or curling ribbon.  Carefully tie around the scrolls.

I like to put one of these in the center of a gift plate of cookies with a personal message to the recipient.  Another thing I have done with these is to attach little tags with peoples names to the ribbon, write a personal message, and used them as place cards at a holiday dinner.

Linking to These Chicks Cooked
Wow Me Wednesday
Wow Me Wednesday
What I Made Wednesday

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Divinity Cookies


One of my favorite cookies when I was growing up were Divinity Cookies.  This was a cookie that the local bake shops sold.  The cookie was stark white, filled with walnuts, and like shortbread with an extra crunch.  I have not seen these sold for a very long time.  I think that the cookies were made with lard or at least white shortening.

Although I have not been able to recreate that cookie completely, this recipe is quite close.   Butter may be used instead of the shortening, but that will give the cookie more of a “Mexican Wedding Cookie” texture.  The Divinity Cookies are rolled into balls and then flattened with a fork dipped in flour, unlike the “Mexican Wedding Cookie” which is left in a ball to bake and then rolled in powdered sugar.  The cookies in the photos were made with butter.  Since the walnuts are a very big part of the flavor of this cookie, they need to be very fresh.  I toast them, but  it is not necessary.

The cookies will not spread very much and are done when set but not browned.


Divinity Cookies
1 c. white shortening or butter, softened
1 c. powdered sugar, sifted or put through a sieve
1 egg white
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 t. cream of tartar
1/2 t. soda
1 c. chopped walnuts

Beat shortening or butter well.   Add powdered sugar and beat well.  Stir in egg white and vanilla.  Beat well.  (You may want to used a whisk here.)  Combine flour, cream of tartar, and soda.  Stir into the egg/sugar mixture until well blended.  Roll mixture into 1-inch balls and place on foil-lined baking sheet.  Flatten with a fork that has been dipped in flour.  Bake at 325 degrees, 5 to 8 minutes, until cookies are set but not brown.  Makes about 4 doz.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Old Fashioned Ginger Strips

Good Monday morning to you all.  I hope that everyone is close to being ready for Christmas.  Thank you for taking the time out of your busy lives to read my blog.  I hope that the information that I post here is useful.



This a cookie that I make every Christmas since I have found it.  It is one of my hubby’s favorites.  The cookies have a nice mildly spiced flavor, and the recipe makes quite a lot of cookies quickly and easily.  Although the recipe include a glaze, the cookies are brushed with water and sprinkled with sugar so the glaze can be omitted if time is an issue.

The recipe comes from Pillsbury Festive  Holiday Recipes, 1981.  It is another of those little grocery store cookbooks.  Yes, I have way too many of them.

These cookie spread quite a lot so only put two rolls on a cookie sheet. Below are photos to show how much the cookies spread.  The rolls were laid the length of the baking sheet, although the photos seem to suggest otherwise. 

Cookies ready to bake, rolls are about 1 1/2-inches wide.

Baked cookies before cutting, see how much they spread.
Old Fashioned Ginger Strips
3/4 c. butter or margarine, softened
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. molasses  (grease your measuring cup for easy removal)
2 1/2 c. flour
2 t. soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. cloves
1/2 t. ginger

Combine butter, sugar, egg, and molasses in a large bowl.  Mix thoroughly.  In another bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger.  Mix well.  Stir into butter/sugar mixture.  Blend thoroughly.  Divide dough into 6 equal portions.  Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil or parchment paper.  Shape each portion of dough into a 12-inch roll, placing roll lengthwise on baking sheet.  Place only two rolls at a time on each baking sheet.  Flatten the rolls slightly to a width of about 1 1/2-2 inches and about 1/4-inch thick.  Brush rolls with water and sprinkle lightly with sugar.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes,or until golden brown.  Remove pans from oven.  With a table knife make diagonal indentations at about 3/4-inch intervals almost all the way through the cookies.  Leave in pan to cool completely.   Drizzle glaze over cookies, if using. Allow to set.  Cut through the cookies at the indentations.  Makes about 64 bars.

3/4 c. powdered sugar, sifted or put through a sieve
1 T. butter or margarine, very soft
1 T. milk
1/2 t. vanilla

Combine ingredients in a small bowl and beat until smooth.  If needed, add a few more drops of milk to make a glaze consistency.

Linking to:  Making Monday Marvelous
Homemade Monday
Marvelous Mess Monday
Inspire Me Monday
Made by You Monday

Sunday, December 18, 2011

So-Easy Sugar Cookie Squares


When my children were growing up, I made rolled out cookies.  I don’t do that much any more.  Sometimes, however, I want the taste of a sugar cookie.  Now I know that there are recipes for cookies that you roll into balls and flatten with a glass, but many years ago I found a recipe that is even simpler and quicker than that.  Sugar cookies made  in a jelly roll pan.  This is a great little cookie to have in your cookie recipe arsenal.  It can be whipped up in a jiffy, prettied up easily, and makes a nice amount. 

Other extracts may be used instead of the vanilla to make different flavors.  I have used lemon, almond, rum, brandy and orange.  The cookies can be topped with plain sugar, cinnamon/sugar or other spices and sugar, and any sprinkles used for cake decoration.  The topping can be made fit to the season.  If using sprinkles, pat them into the dough slightly with the palm of your hand.

The recipe was printed in Pillsbury’s Family Fun cookbook, 1983, another of those little cookbooks found at the grocery store.  I have never seen the recipe anywhere else.  Pillsbury called them So-Easy Sugar Cookies.  I added the name squares to describe them better.


So-Easy Sugar Cookies Squares
3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. shortening
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 T. milk
1 t. vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1.2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 T. sugar to sprinkle over the top

In a large mixing bowl combine sugar, shortening, oil, milk, vanilla and egg and beat well.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir into sugar/egg mixture.  Mix well.  Dough will be somewhat stiff.  Turn dough out onto the center of a foil-lined 10x15-inch baking pan.  Spread evenly to fill pan.  I usually have to use my hands to do this.  Sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar evenly over the top.  Bake at 375 degrees 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown.  Cool 5 minutes.  Cut into squares.  Makes about 40 cookies.

Linking to Strut Your Stuff Saturday
Sweets for a Saturday
Melt in Your Mouth Monday
Mangia Monday
Amaze Me Monday

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Eggnog Cranberry Bread Pudding with Cranberry Sauce


This was supposed to be my recipe for the December Improv Cooking Challenge, only I missed it.  I thought the recipes were supposed to be posted today, but it was actually Thursday. 

This is a recipe for that good ole comfort food, bread pudding.  I  adapted my favorite bread pudding recipe which comes from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.  I have had several editions of this cook book, and I think that the same bread pudding recipe has been in every one.

I am giving a range for the amount of bread to use.  If you like a more custard like bread pudding, use  4 slices of bread.   If you like a firmer bread pudding that you can slice and serve, use  6 slices of bread.  The bread pudding in the photo was made using 6 slices of bread.

I like to pour hot water over the dried cranberries to plump them up a bit, like raisins, but it is not necessary to do so.

I first made a rum sauce for this, but then decided that I wanted a cranberry sauce to pour over the bread pudding.  When I did a internet search, the results were all for the type of cranberry sauce served at Thanksgiving.  I then decided to do a search for cranberry syrup and found several; but most used fresh or frozen cranberries.  I wanted a recipe that used cranberry juice and found one at Taste of Home.  The recipe was submitted by Teresa Gaetzke, North Freedom, Wisconsin.  I am going to post the Rum Sauce, also; so take your pick.


Eggnog Cranberry Bread Pudding
Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook, 1989
4 to 6 slices dried Italian bread
4 eggs, at room temperature (or put in warm water for 10 minutes)
1/4 c. sugar (can be white or brown)
1 c. eggnog
1 c. milk
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. rum extract
1/2 c. dried cranberries

If bread is not dried, place slices on a baking sheet and dry in a 300 degree oven, about 10 minutes on each side.  Let cool slightly and cut into cubes.  ( I actually just tear the bread into small pieces since I like a more rustic dish.)  Set aside.  Beat the eggs in a large bowl until very well beaten.  Add the sugar and stir well.  Mix in the eggnog, nutmeg, and rum extract.  Stir in the cranberries.  Pour into an 8x8 greased baking dish.  Bake at 325 degrees 40 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  May be served warm or cold.  Refrigerate any leftovers.  Makes 6 to 9 servings.

Cranberry Sauce
Taste of Home, Teresa Gaetzke
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1 c. cranberry juice
1/2 c. light corn syrup

In a 2 qt. saucepan, combine the sugars and cranberry juice.  (Do not use a smaller saucepan, the mixture can boil over.)  Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, about 7 to 10 minutes.  Boil for 4 minutes, stirring.  Add corn syrup; boil and stir for 1 minute more.  Cool slightly.  This can be used warm or cold.  Makes 2 cups.  Store in refrigerator.  If you want sauce just to top the bread pudding, halve the recipe.

Rum Sauce
Pillsbury Holiday Baking & Gifts, 1995
1 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 c. whipping cream
1/4 c. corn syrup, light or dark
1 T. butter or margarine
1/2 t. rum extract

Combine all ingredients except extract in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens.  Reduce heat to low, simmer 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Stir in rum extract.  Serve warm.  Makes about 1 cup.  Store in refrigerator

Linking to:  Melt in Your Mouth Monday
Must Try Monday

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Finds

You have probably heard about The Great Food Bloggers Cookie Swap.  I participated, and it was such fun.  Just  in case you need another cookie recipe, here are the links to the round up of the recipes.  The first part is at Love and Olive Oil, and the second part is at Little Kitchen.  This will be a great resource if you are looking for a new cookie to make in 2012.

Homemade syrups are great for gift giving, and I found a few in my travels around the net this week.

Annie's Eats

Annie's Eats

There are recipes for eggnog, toffee, peppermint, gingerbread, vanilla, raspberry, caramel, and coconut flavors here.  They all sound great.  They can be mixed in to make those fancy coffees that cost so much money.  Since I don't drink coffee, I would use them to top things like pancakes, waffles, bread puddings, and ice cream.

Talking Dollars and Cents

Maple is one of my favorite flavors. (And you all know that I have many.)  This is a great little no-cook candy that could be whipped up at the last minute.  If you didn't want to bother with the dipping in chocolate, I'll be they would be wonderful rolled in toasted, finely chopped walnuts.

Chef-in-Training has a list of 15 wonderful-looking fudge recipes here.  Some of these I had not seen.  I am personally going after this one.  The three layers look so pretty, and chocolate and cherry is a great flavor combo.

At Second Street

Making Memories with Your Kids

If you like the chocolate covered orange and raspberry jelly candy that can be purchased commercially, you will love these.  The candy takes common grocery store ingredients except for the raspberry extract which may take a little tracking down.  Substitute orange extract for the raspberry, and you have orange jellies.  Orange extract is easily found at the grocery store.  The candies do not have to be dipped in the chocolate if you don't want to.  This are many wonderful ideas on this blog, so if you visit, look around some.

Perhaps there are some ideas for last minute food gifts for Christmas here.

As always the photos in this post were taken by and are the property of the owners of the respective blogs represented.

Linking up to Friday Favorite Finds at Finding Joy in My Kitchen.  I can't wait to see what everyone else has found on their travels around the net this week.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Puddin’ Candy Clusters

12 weeks of christmas graphic

Here we are at week 12 of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies & Sweets.  What an arsenal of new recipes I have at my disposal.  Last year as a reader, I followed along.  This year as a blogger, it has been great fun sharing some of my favorite recipes.  I think I am going to miss this each week for awhile.

Thank you Brenda at Meal Planning Magic for organizing this and being such a great hostess.

The recipe I am sharing this week is for a quick and easy candy made from cook-and-serve pudding mix.  The recipe comes from Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book printed in 1963.  I have two copies of this book.  My old, original copy has no cover and is missing some pages I used it so much.  In 2002 a facsimile edition was published, and I was lucky enough to purchase one of those.

In 1963 there were a number of flavors of cook-and-serve puddings available such as coconut cream and lemon.  Now I can only find vanilla, chocolate, and butterscotch.  I use extracts such as coconut, mint, cherry, almond and orange to vary the flavors of the vanilla and chocolate puddings to create variety.

Any nut can be used in these candies.  Some good pairings are vanilla and toasted almonds, butterscotch and pecan, chocolate and peanuts, chocolate and walnuts.  Coconut can be used in place of the nuts.  Coconut flavoring added to vanilla or chocolate with toasted coconut is very good.  Raisins can be added to the chocolate to make raisin clusters.  This is a fun recipe to play around with.  Today the combination is
butterscotch and toasted pecans.


Puddin’ Candy Clusters
Betty Crocker Cooky Book, 1963
1 pkg. (3 oz.) cook-and-serve pudding mix, butterscotch, vanilla or chocolate
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. evaporated milk
1 T. butter or margarine
1 c. toasted pecans, halved lengthwise

Mix pudding mix and sugar in a 2-qt. saucepan.  Add milk and butter.  Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a full rolling boil.  (This will take about 7 minutes.)  Lower heat and boil gently 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in the nuts.  Immediately beat the mixture until it thickens and becomes somewhat dull looking.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto aluminum foil or waxed paper.  Let stand until set.  If candy sets up before all mixture is dropped, add a few drops of hot water.  The mixture may also be poured into a greased 9x3-inch loaf pan.  Let it set up and cut into squares.  Makes about 30 clusters.


Here is a list of links to the recipes that I contributed.  There are only 11 as I did not post a recipe the week that my Mom died.

Week 1  No-Bake Peanut Butter or Chocolate Drops
Week 2  Graham Marshmallow Drops
Week 3  Oatmeal Crisp Brownies
Week 4  Cranberry Orange Snack Mix
Week 5  Almond Joy Fudgies
Week 6  Chocolate Bar Cookies
Week 7  Not Pecan Pie Bars
Week 8  No Post
Week 9  Maple Sugars
Week 10  Hidden Kiss Cookies
Week 11  Coconut Medallions
Week 12 Puddin' Candy Clusters (above)

I hope that people have enjoyed some of the recipes that I shared this year.  I am looking forward to making many great new recipes that I found through the swap.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ingredient Spotlight-Key West Coconut Bread

Edited 12/27/12.  The picture are now of the actual Key West Coconut Bread

Right now at the beginning, I have to tell you that the photo above is not of this recipe, but of my A-Z Bread recipe. I make Key West Coconut Bread every year for my son-in-law for Christmas, and I won't be making it until next week.   Because coconut is the spotlight ingredient over at Eat at Home, and this bread is so good, I wanted to get the recipe posted.

Some years I give quick bread as Christmas gifts, I bake this in the mini loaf pans.  I get about six out of one recipe.  Baked in the 4x8-inch loaf pans, the yield is two.

Butter and sour cream along with the toasted coconut give this bread wonderful flavor.

I got the recipe from the internet a number of years ago but don't remember where.

Key West Coconut Bread
1/2 lb. soft butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
4 tsp. coconut extract
1 (16 oz.) carton sour cream
2 cups flaked coconut, toasted
4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder

Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs and extract, then sour cream.  Add coconut.  Stir together flour, baking soda and baking powder; add to creamed mixture, blending well.  Divide into 2 lightly greased 4x8-inch loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of bread comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack.  Remove from pan and wrap tightly.  Makes two 4x8-inch loaves

Linking to:  Ingredient Spotlight
These Chicks Cooked
Wow Me Wednesday
Wow Me Wednesday
What I Made Wednesday

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nutty Marshmallows-Guest Post at Mom's Crazy Cooking

I am so excited to be guest posting today over at Mom's Crazy Cooking as one of Tina's Holiday Guest Bloggers.

I am sharing a recipe for one of our family's favorite Christmas treats-Nutty Marshmallows.  This is an easy-to-make treat that takes only 3 ingredients.

Although I have always made these goodies with the ground nuts and love them that way, the marshmallows can also be rolled in crushed candy such as candy canes, Butterfingers or toffee chips or cake decorator things like chocolate sprinkles.

Tina's blog is loaded with all sorts of good stuff.  She hosts a weekly "themed" linky party and The Crazy Cooking Challenge where each month bloggers search out other blogs for a specific dish, make the dish, and then blog about it on a given day.  So after you have read my post, stick around awhile.  Now let's head on over to Mom's Crazy Cooking and let's make Nutty Marshmallows.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Shortbread-The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011

Good Monday morning all.  Welcome to my new followers.  Thanks very much to all who take the time out of their busy lives to read this blog.  I hope that you find the information that I post here useful.

What a week of deliciousness I had last week.  When I heard about The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I knew that I wanted to participate.   What fun, I thought. to make a batch of cookies, send them off, and receive three different cookies back.  Well, last week was the week we received our cookies.  The first cookies that I received were from Amber at Bluebonnets and Brownies.   Her cookies came in cute little packages of two.

 Inside these little packages were wonderful cookies called Candy Cane Kiss Cookies.  These cookies had great peppermint flavor.  I shared these with a couple of coworkers, and they really liked them, too.

The next cookies I received were from Hannah Frey.  I am sorry I don't know what Hannah's blog is; so Hannah if you see this,  please leave the name of your blog in the comments.  Thank you for the cookies.

This little bag had Egg Nog Cookies in it.  They were soft and cake-like.  My husband and I both loved them.  He took the last of them today when he went to Dallas, Oregon to purchase a 4-Wheeler.

The last cookies I received came from Kristin at Meringue Bake Shop.  She packaged these cookies in a cute plastic container with a label telling what they were.  The idea was very cute.  I only have a few cookies to show in the photo as the package was damaged in shipping.  That did not dimish the deliciousness of the chocolate cookies with cherry chips in them, however.  Kristin has a cupcake baking business so I was a little intimidated that I sent my cookies to a professional.

The cookie I sent are kind of a "secret" recipe that I have been making every holiday for many, many years.  Now the "secret" is out.  The recipe originally appeared in an issue of Woman’s Day magazine. It was probably in a December issue in one of those little “cookbook” inserts that they used to put in their magazine. The December “cookbook” was usually full of cookie recipes. It is one of those recipes that I have come across only once.

People are usually very intrigued when they see these cookies because they can’t figure out what was done to get the design on them. The secret is a plate from a cookie press. The plate is pressed onto the top of the cookie to make the design. The plate needs to be a metal plate from the older cookie presses, not the newer ones as they are too thick.  If a cookie press plate is not available, the cookies can be flattened with the tines of a fork.

These are a brown sugar shortbread cookie that I think tastes much like the Lorna Doone cookie. If you like Lorna Doones, you will like these. The butter and brown sugar are what give these cookies their flavor so be sure that both of these are fresh.

The dough will be very stiff and needs to be chilled. This makes it great for making ahead. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for a week or so and can be frozen. Only allow the dough to warm up to the point that you can begin to pinch off pieces of dough and form them into balls. If the dough gets too soft, you cannot imprint it. Rechill the dough if necessary.

The cookies keep well (if people stay out of them) so they can be prepared and baked ahead also.

Holiday Shortbread
1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
2 1/4 c. flour
2/3 c.cornstarch
1/2 t. salt

Cream butter and brown sugar together until very creamy. Stir in egg and vanilla until well blended. In a separate bowl combine flour, cornstarch and salt. Mix together well. Slowly add to creamed mixture. The dough will be very stiff. Form dough into a ball, wrap airtight and chill at least several hours. Pinch pieces of dough from ball and form into 1-inch balls. Place on foil-lined baking sheet. Lightly flour a cookie press design plate and press evenly onto the top of a dough ball until the cookie is about 1/4-inch thick. Remove design plate. Repeat for each dough ball. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until just barely browned on the edges. Makes about 5 dozen. Store airtight in a cool, dry place. 

This swap was so much fun, and Julie and Lindsay say they will do it again; so if you missed it this year and want information about participating next year, just go here to be notified about the swap.  Signing up will get you information, but no obligation to actually participate.

The bloggers who participated in the swap are posting their recipes today.  You can still "sort of" participate by visiting Julie's and Lindsay's blogs on Thursday where they will have a full roundup of the recipe posts.  Have fun.

Linking to:  Melt in Your Mouth Monday
Must Try Monday
Mangia Monday
Made by You Monday
Newbie Party
Market Yourself Monday
Amaze Me Monday
Making Mondays Marvelous
Make Something Monday
Homemaker Monday
Marvelous Mess
Inspire Me Monday

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